Emancipation is the process of achieving the same legal treatment as an adult even if you are still under 18. In many families where the children and parents have severe confrontations or the child already supports themselves financially, the minor child may be able to seek emancipation to become their own legal person and take control of their own life.
If you are 16 or 17 and want to seek emancipation from your parents, contact The Queenan Law Firm’s Texas emancipation lawyers today. Our attorneys can help you understand the legal effects and process for seeking emancipation in Texas in a confidential legal consultation. To schedule your confidential consultation, contact our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.
Emancipation Laws in Texas
Emancipation is sometimes called “divorcing” your parents, and the effect is quite similar to divorce. Minors under 18 are legally connected to their parents until they turn 18 and become legal adults. By emancipating yourself, you sever the legal connection, much like in a divorce case, and are allowed to stand on your own as your own independent legal person.
Emancipation is governed by Texas Family Code § 31.001 and the following sections. To qualify for emancipation in Texas, you must meet a few requirements:
- You must live in Texas – You cannot reach across state lines to take advantage of Texas’ emancipation laws if your state has different rules.
- You must be 16 or 17 years old – If you are 16, however, you must be living in a separate household from your parents or guardians.
- You must manage your own finances – If you still rely on your parents financially, the court will not sever the parental relationship.
Usually, minors do not have the legal right to make decisions on their own. Emancipation’s goal is to remove the legal “disability” of being a minor, giving you the power to make your own legal decisions, enter into contracts, buy and own property in your own name, get married, and make other decisions for yourself. In keeping with this goal, you can file a petition for emancipation without your parent’s permission.
Effects of Emancipation in Texas
In Texas, the “age of majority” or the legal age at which you become an “adult” is 18. Anyone under 18 has a legal “disability” that prevents them from making certain decisions for themselves, giving that right to their parents instead. When you emancipate yourself, you become a legal adult for many purposes, even if you are still 16 or 17.
Unlike other persons under 18, an emancipated minor has the legal ability to:
- File a lawsuit on their own behalf
- Get married
- Enter into contracts
- Buy and own property
- Control their healthcare
Another important right that you get as an emancipated minor is the right to control your own educational decisions. This means that you get the ability to drop out of high school without your parent’s permission if you find that working instead of getting a diploma is in your best interests.
Even though you may legally be an “adult” for many purposes, you still do not get certain rights that you must wait until a later age for. For instance, you still cannot buy cigarettes or vote until you reach the age of 18, and you still cannot buy alcohol until you are 21.
Since 2017, emancipation is a requirement to get married if you are under 18. Before that, you could get married as a minor if you had your parent’s permission, and even children under 16 could get married. Now, children must get emancipated first before a court can grant a marriage license. Getting emancipated with your parent’s permission is often simpler than filing a petition for emancipation on your own, and you should talk to an attorney about cooperating with your parents in seeking emancipation if your goal is to get married before you turn 18.
Process for Emancipation in Texas
The first step in filing for emancipation is filing a petition with the court. This petition should state your name and address, your parents’ names and addresses, your argument for why emancipation is necessary, and the purposes for which you are seeking emancipation (i.e., to enter into a contract, to get married, etc.). An attorney can help you file this petition.
From there, the court will hold hearings to determine whether emancipation is in your best interests. When making decisions regarding minors, courts must always use the child’s best interests as their ultimate guidelines. An attorney can advocate for you, presenting your case for emancipation to the court and arguing why emancipation is necessary.
An attorney can also help negotiate with your parents on your behalf, potentially getting consent and permission for emancipation, which can help this process be much smoother and simpler.
Contact Our Texas Emancipation Lawyers for a Confidential Legal Consultation
If you are a minor seeking emancipation or “divorce” from your parents, contact The Queenan Law Firm’s Texas emancipation lawyers today. Our attorneys represent minors seeking emancipation and can help you claim the legal rights you need to get married, enter into contracts, and make other legal decisions for yourself. To schedule a legal consultation, contact our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.